gun violence

Woman Fatally Shot in Southeast DC, Suspect Found Dead in Laurel

Leslie Simpson, 52, died after being shot at the Savannah Heights Apartments in Congress Heights. Steven Dreher, 65, was suspected in the domestic crime and found dead off I-95 in Maryland

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A woman died after she was shot in Southeast D.C. on Wednesday morning, and the suspect was later found dead by suicide in Laurel, Maryland, authorities say. 

Leslie Simpson, of Southeast D.C., was the victim, police said. She was 52. 

Steven Dreher, also of Southeast D.C., was suspected of killing her in a crime that was “domestic in nature,” police said in a statement. Information on the nature of their relationship was not released. 

Residents of the Savannah Heights Apartments, in the Congress Heights neighborhood, told News4 they heard voices seemingly raised in argument. Then they heard something more troubling. 

“I heard about four or five shots,” one resident said. 

Officers were called to the 200 block of Savannah Street SE at about 8:15 a.m., Cmdr. John Branch told reporters. The victim was found with gunshot wounds and taken to a hospital, he said. She later was pronounced dead, police said in an update. 

An SUV parked near the crime scene was hit by a bullet. Officers canvassed the area and spoke to witnesses, said Branch, the commander of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Seventh District. A parking lot was roped off with yellow police tape, and a number of evidence markers could be seen. A large number of officers responded to the crime.

“We believe this was a targeted shooting, a targeted assault, so there’s no danger to the community at large,” Branch said.

Before the morning was over, the case took an unexpected turn. Officers acting on information distributed about the suspect found a car on I-95 in Laurel that they believed was his, law enforcement sources told News4. Officers followed the car on northbound I-95 without a chase and Dreher drove to a rest stop, sources said. He then died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, D.C. police said. Maryland State Police are investigating Dreher's death. He was 65.

Residents said they were shaken by a killing in their midst. They said they’re pleased with security at the complex, including gates and cameras, but that the crime points to a need for more.

So far this year in D.C., 129 people have died in homicides, compared to 118 people at the same point last year, MPD data says. Reports of homicide are up 9%, reports of assaults with a dangerous weapon are down 9% and reports of overall violent crime are up 5%. The homicide rate was higher about 20 years ago, at 262 people killed in 2002 and 248 people killed in 2003. 

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to for additional resources.

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